Q&A with Profitera CEO on Open Source

October 08 2010

PETALING JAYA--The following is an excerpt from the interview done by Edwin Yapp who is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia with Profitera Corporation CEO & President, Mr KeshMahinder Singh.

  1. Press >>: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the adoption of OSS in the country? Why do you give that rating?

    Kesh >>: I believe the adoption rate is higher amongst the IT vendors providing solutions to their customers than the user side. My view is that the IT companies / vendors that is not too Microsoft'ish in their technology choice have an 80% ++ adoption rate of OSS. This goes from the one man show to the giants in town who are delivering national projects with millions of customers in the systems.
  2. Press >>: In you opinion, what industry verticals have started using OSS in their operations on a daily basis? For each of these sectors, what part of the (software stack) enterprises are using? (web servers, app servers, database etc)

    Kesh >>: At the end users side, the Banks and Telco are using it but they are not openly saying so. With the positioning of Linux under Novell (SUSE) and Red Hat, I am also seeing a higher degree of OS / Server adoption of OSS. The pre-bundling of Linux by Dell, Sun, IBM and HP with their servers is also accelerating the adoption of the OSS. I believe in the app server / web server stack, most of the projects that are not going Microsoft's way, have some component of the OSS included. The education sector is a high consumer of OSS, for sure.

  3. Press >>: FOSS we know is not free as there are associated costs involved in installing, maintaining, upgrading and troubleshooting problems. This, argues, proprietary vendors (PVs), is where the cost of OSS can escalate, and they often suggesting that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of OSS is far higher than that of proprietary software. Is this a fair comment?

    If so, how to you respond to these criticisms?

    Kesh >>: The cost of support is always a relative issue. Itís relative to whom you seek such support from and the availability of such support from the market place. In the case of OSS, because we have so much of power with the open codes, the chances are that someone who's not too well versed can mess things up. But we generally notice that those who are users or consumers of OSS type software, have a better feel of what it can or cannot do. The support from the community via blogs, forums and discussion groups are far more than what we see in some proprietary software support groups. So, the availability of OSS skills is rapidly increasing in Malaysia and I believe that itís much easier now to get someone who's exposed to various OSS stack levels in supporting and using it.

    As a matter of fact, in my tactical view as an ISV who uses OSS quite extensively, the TCO of OSS is far lower than software from proprietary vendors. Itís a given!

  4. Press >>: Your company uses OSS to develop applications and/or run your systems. Why have you chosen to go with OSS? Are getting competent technical skills to support your OSS systems a problem? And if so, is it stifling your use of OSS more?

    Kesh >>: We are an ISV that produces software for the Revenue Collection and Debt Recovery space where banks, credit cards and telcos are targeted. I have found that our ability to develop and enhance our core application framework engine is very much enhanced with the usage of some OSS components. There are many instances where we have had to do extra work to write wrappers or integration code to bring the component into our framework, but, overall, it has been a huge plus to have such components readily available in the open source realm.

  5. Press >>: Some analysts say that while the adoption of OSS is increasing, the revenues generated by OSS are not growing as quickly. What is your take on this?

    Kesh >>: The revenue models for software and services companies are expected to come from licensing, implementation services and post sales support services. In the case of licensing, if the OSS based software is sold just as is, one certainly cannot make much revenue from software licensing. But if the software company leverages some parts of OSS but sells the software as a commercial grade software with a lot of proprietary code in conjunction with OSS code, there's certainly more revenue to be made. We all know that the biggest money earner for OSS type vendors is to provide services, support and training around the OSS stack. I believe the appetite for OSS services will continue to grow as the acceptance levels increase.

    I have been a firm believer that if you sell only commodity items (OS, App Server, Web Server, etc.) without adding any value to the customer's expectation, then the margins are going to be very little. But if there's significant value add, the revenue margins naturally will be much higher.

  6. Press >>: What other issue/challenges must be addressed for OSS to continue flourishing?

    Kesh >>: The way in which the licensing is done today, has to continue to support ease of use, embedding and leveraging the OSS. If there's any twist to the licensing model, then we may have waves of backlash and withdrawal of support. The momentum is already too powerful for OSS, itís going to be hard to derail it anymore, no matter how hard some folks try....